Bonjour! How are you all, dear friends in Japan?

In May 2014 we celebrated the 10th La Folle Journée, and it truly was an unforgettable musical experience. After coming into contact with people wholeheartedly enjoying the music at the 10th anniversary venues, a new idea for La Folle Journée of the future welled up in my mind.

Up until now La Folle Journée has selected a theme in the context of classical music, for example a composer, period or city. However, I asked myself whether we couldn't now have a more expansive program, one that transcends historical periods and genres, and that takes as its theme universal elements such as 'nature' or 'dance' which run through all the cultures of the world, past and present. By doing this, we can attract the interest of a wide range of people, not just classical music fans. We will draw up a more free-wheeling program that does not depend on a certain period or composer, which will enable us to offer you the experience of many masterpieces that would have been hard to feature in the past. I'm sure that you will experience an even deeper joy in your musical encounters.

We could assume a relatively objective response to our themes so far, but we are now entering new territory where there is no such pre-determined response. The artists, you the audience and I myself will enter upon a journey where we face the theme squarely, question ourselves about it and come up with our own answers. In that sense, La Folle Journée of the past was an 'introduction'. The true musical adventure of La Folle Journée is finally about to start!
I want to invite you all to join us on an even more exciting musical journey, one packed with adventures and discoveries.

The theme is 'passions'

The first theme of the new La Folle Journée is 'passions'.
What comes to mind when you hear the word 'passion'?
For me, 'passion' is above all a strong emotion that comes from the very depths of the soul. It is not necessarily expressed tempestuously to the outside world. It can, for example, be sensed in the hushed reserve so often seen in Japanese movies.

How has 'passion' been expressed in the long history of music from the Renaissance to the present day? How have composers turned into music the fabric of life, the human spirit and emotions, and all the things that cannot be expressed in words?
In drawing up the program from amongst the vast array of works from the 400 years spanning the Renaissance and the early 20th century, I have identified three portals through which to approach 'passion'

The first portal: 'the passion of prayer'

In my homeland of France and other European countries, 'the Passion' means the suffering of Christ when he is arrested and crucified. Many composers have sublimated prayer into beautiful music, such as Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion' and 'St. John Passion', and Vivaldi's 'Stabat Mater (Sorrows of Mary)'. This year's music festival introduces 'the passion of prayer' of composers ranging from the baroque to the modern, bringing you masterpieces that well up from the depths of the soul, pierce the heart and jolt the emotions.

The second portal: 'the passion of love'

There are few themes that have nourished so much creativity in all artistic genres throughout the ages as love has. In the world of classical music too, many composers have poured love's yearnings and sorrows, and sometimes its burning madness, into works dedicated to their beloved. Many exquisite pieces of music have been created with famous love stories such as 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Pelléas and Mélisande' as their motif. We will bring you various narratives of 'the passion of love' in our next festival, interweaving works such as Renaissance love songs and great operatic arias, whilst the main focus is on the works of such 19th century Romantic composers as Chopin, Schumann and Brahms.

The third portal: 'the passion for life'

There are many pieces of classical music that truly are imbued with the throb of life, just as it is. Composers wrote down the rare joys that delighted their spirit, their love of life, and their countless hopes and desires for their life in the form of a musical score, so that they could all be brought back to life in musical performances. At this year's festival you will be able to experience the rare and precious aura of life woven by the composer and the performers in concerts infused with these 'passions for life'.

LFJ 2015 weaves together a vast repertory of fascinating and inspired works on the theme of 'passions'. Please listen to the music whilst imagining the feelings that the composer wrote into it and the meaning of its passion. When you do so, your heart will be jolted by the vibrations of the composer's and performers' souls and you will encounter a passion of your own.
You will not be disappointed by this new incarnation of La Folle Journée!

René Martin,
Artistic Director